the clock on the wall reads five past three

Tamara pushes open the door of the Med School wing of Christie General, a facility originally built in a sleepy rural backwater in the 19th Century. Deliberately removed from urban centers of industry and disease, quiet and fresh air was more responsible for the high rate of patient survival than many of the dubious medical practices of the day.

Sixty years later the institutional quiet was breached forever with an influx of casualties that no other facility had the beds to accept. Great War survivors of mustard gas, battlefield surgery and shell shock desperately needed housing and treatment. No longer just a quiet place where the railroad petered into a train yard, the town expanded to accommodate an ever increasing flow of visitors, sprawling down the valley to meet the river.

With an end to the war, several military surgeons followed their former patients to Christie, bringing with them surgical innovations developed in wretched battlefield conditions, triggering the transformation from sanatorium to teaching hospital, and it wasn’t long before Christie University grew up around the bustling hospital.

Tamara undresses in the locker room, slipping into scrubs and stuffing her clothes in the locker. She notes the quiet, but brushes her unease aside as she hurries to the Lab. It’s later than she thought. Damn.

Opening the door she’s surprised to find the lab empty.

Nobody here.

Nothing to cut.

WTF? Maybe she got the day wrong? Must have been rescheduled. Wish somebody had told her, given her a call, something. She could have stayed in the sun with her baby. Maybe she can still catch him.

She goes back into the hall when the men’s locker room door slams open and startles her. She whirls to look but it’s only Nick, backing out with a wheelie bin.

“Gee, Nick, you scared me. What happened to the dissection?”

Nick looks at her. He thinks she’s intelligent enough, but he knows if she doesn’t get it together soon she’s gonna be history. Her big brown eyes look so open, so serious. Probably because her pupils are so widely dilated.

“The dissection went off as scheduled at one, Tamara.”

“At one. I thought … it’s after one?”

Nick nods toward the wall clock, “It’s after three.”

She stares at him, aghast. “Oh no.”

Nick starts wheeling the sharps cart away, but he feels sorry for the girl standing there, conflicted. Maybe she’ll pull it up if he gives her a word. She looks pretty devastated. So he stops.

“Look, I know you’re really smart. But if you don’t focus you’re just not going to make it. There are too many people who want your spot. If you want an easy ride you’re in the wrong program, you want to transfer to something else ’cause there just isn’t any slack for a pre-med.”

Her head is bowed and her shoulders are shaking. But when she speaks her words are steady, though her voice is thick with tears. “Can I make up the dissection with another class?”

“Come by the office after five. I’ll see what I can do.” Nick shrugs. “I think you might make a good doctor, Tamara, but maybe not. What you do on your own time is your business, but I can smell the pot from here. And that sure isn’t the way.”

Tamara says. “It won’t happen again.”

Pushing the bin toward the store room he hears her say softly, “Thanks Nick.”

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